Social media is where the important action in content aggregation, advertising, marketing and trendsetting has landed. The newspapers are junk mail brochures. Television is scattered and segmented. Talk radio is dying a merciful death. According to a 2013 survey by Pew Research, 73 percent of adults online use one or more social media sites. The general public has picked up and moved to social media sites like YouTube, and they’re going to stay there. Let’s examine how the social media landscape has changed in 2014, and what this means for the near future.
7. You’re Going To Have To Pay To Market On Social Sites
You’re not going to pay to socialize with your family on Facebook or your friends on Instagram. A paywall won’t take the place of Freemium concepts on social media anytime soon — or ever. The big fish of meeting up virtually are moving towards charging businesses more to reach more likes on their services. Facebook already does.
Facebook monetized their 1.28 billion users without bothering them. They’re not letting businesses simply hold court on their Facebook pages to market to Facebook’s audience directly anymore. By limiting how many subscribers any Facebook page can connect with at any one time, Facebook will make businesses pay, at the same time protecting regular users from a constant bombardment of marketing. Other social sites will follow suit. Or perish.
6. Mark My Words: Google’s Going To Abandon Blogger
Sounds like crazy talk, but it isn’t. Google’s in the business of selling targeted keyword ads on every inch of Internet real estate it can get its hooks in, so ending their free blogging site sounds like the opposite of their track record.
But it isn’t. Google didn’t develop Blogger. It’s just another of their many acquisitions. Google isn’t shy about closing their underperforming assets at the drop of a hat. Last year they killed Reader and Google Checkout without batting an eye.
At the time Google purchased it, Blogger was where the action was. Lots of people new to the Internet got excited about the level of engagement available by sharing essays and pictures daily, and using blogrolls and feeds to network.
Those days are over. It’s too much work to blog daily, and there are too many alternatives, such as YouTube, to blogging the old-fashioned way for Blogger to survive the Google ax much longer. Last year, Google Search quietly changed the dropdown list for “More” search methods. They removed “blogs.” Not a good sign if you’re on Blogger.
5. WordPress Killed Blogger. Now It’s Reinventing Itself
Ultimately, WordPress worked hard on the back end of their Content Management System while Google stood still with Blogger. It’s become the de facto standard for blogging. Their ecosystem of plugins blows Blogger out of the water. But blogging isn’t a growth industry, and WordPress knows it. There’s been an big increase in ecommerce and shopping cart software tailored to WordPress. By the time blogging for amusement dies, WordPress will be the back end of every online store. Mark it down.
4. Users Are Going To Get Angry At Reddit Soon
Reddit’s claim that they’re the front page of the Internet isn’t an idle boast. The site gets 120 million unique visitors a month. But it’s so vast, with so many subreddits, that it’s becoming unnavigable to a new user, and too crabby and isolated to the old users. Subreddits will continue to metastasize from other subreddits until everyone has one, read solely by themselves, and reddit users will flock to the next big aggregator
3. Twitter Is A Disaster. It’s Going To Get Worse
Twitter fell to an all-time post-IPO low yesterday, and I don’t think that’s an aberration. A shared texting platform is a niche utility. By taking the company public, Twitter was signaling that it was ready to become almost universal, like Facebook has managed to do. I don’t see it.
Facebook’s problem with abandoned pages skewing their statistics is nothing compared to Twitter’s. Late last year, the Wall Street Journal interviewed a man familiar with the black market for fake Twitter accounts, and he identified one supplier offering 150,000 fake accounts, available in one transaction! And that was after Twitter had clamped down on abandoned and fake accounts.
According to Pew Research, only 18 percent of social media users use Twitter, and the number might be maxed out already. To monetize Twitter, they have to clamp down on fakes. If they clamp down too hard, they might find out there weren’t very many real people there in the first place.
2. Tumblr Isn’t Going Anywhere. I Mean That Both Ways
Tumblr is huge. It’s an easy and intuitive method of sharing whatever catches your fancy on your daily trip though the Internet. That makes it useful to people that don’t feel like existing solely as a poorly drawn avatar on other websites. But the ease of use is also a temptation to easy abandonment.
One statistic on their About page struck me: 113 million new posts per day on Tumblr, on 169 million registered blogs. That sound like tens of millions of abandoned blogs to me. I honestly don’t know what Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo! was thinking when she paid $1.1 Billion for Tumblr. If you try to monetize it, everyone will get crabby and leave. They already have a Pinterest page to go to, and that leads me to…
1. Pinterest Will Win The Social Media Wars
Many pundits have been very dismissive of Pinterest since its inception. They sneered at it as Tumblr for mommy bloggers. That’s a bad thing? Pinterest is even easier than Tumblr for curating and sharing things you like, and women have flocked to it in droves. According to Pew Research, 21 percent of the online population is now using Pinterest. That’s already more than Twitter, and there’s room for lots more growth.
Pinterest already has 500,000 business accounts, and the site is barely four years old. That can be monetized. The majority of household purchases are made by the demographic that Pinterest caters to. Pinterest blows Twitter away in referrals to commerce sites by 2 to 1, and even though they can’t touch Facebook at 60 percent, the per-order average dollar value thru a Pinterest referral is already higher than Facebook’s. Barring extraordinary mismanagement, Pinterest is bound to make it to the top of the social media heap, and stay there.